Home > "Dialogue", Elder's Soft Inside, Leadership, Series > How a Gas Station ..might be.. like the (hypothetical) Third Way Movement

How a Gas Station ..might be.. like the (hypothetical) Third Way Movement

2 January 2011

Earlier in the year, I had posted this , which garnered a couple of interesting, albeit wide, responses.  Since I am winding down this blog over the next few posts (there now, it’s official!), I thought it would be a good idea to tackle this “once and for all.”  Of course, the “once and for all,” isn’t quite that, since the Third Way movement by all reckonings isn’t past the ideation phase of its development, if we can call it that. 

So, how exactly is a gas station like the Third Way Movement? 

Well, first thing we notice from the picture is that we aren’t looking at a gas station, but at a gas pump.  Why is the gas station out of the picture?  Well, let’s consider what’s inside of the gas station.  Inside of the gas station, there are bathrooms and a lot of overpriced junkfood, along with other overpriced necessities that are cheaper at the grocery store.  Looking around at the commodities for sale and their prices, it is clear to anyone that you would never plan a shopping trip to a gas station.  Their business is set up on impulse buying – in other words, you buy the candy bar because it was convenient to do so at the same time you bought gas.  Or, you bought the soda because you used the rest room and felt like you owed something to the owner of the gas station. 

But none of that is necessary.  We don’t need to purchase the candy bar, because we can do all of our business with the gas station right at the pump.  Just swipe the debit or credit card, pump the gas, and then drive down to the grocery store or rest area to take care of our other business.  Not the most convenient policy, to be sure, but certainly more cost-effective. 

And of course, we accept that we must do business with the gas station, if only because we need at least one (and possibly two, if we count the free service) of their commodities.  And there things stand, with our ambivalent attitude towards the gas station, and the gas stations ambivalent attitude towards the consumer.  At least, things will stand that way for a few generations, until a new technology comes along (?) bringing a new technological era along with a new set of ambivalent relationships.  🙂

Relating this back to the hypothetical Third Way Movement .. People in this movement feel called to stay within the Episcopal Church, waiting for the time when the current liberal administration to crumble under the weight of its own ineptitude.  At that point, “reform” is simply a matter of housecleaning. 

In the meantime, they are obligated to “pay dues” to TEC, just as everyone who is a part of an organization is obliged to pay dues.  But being the roistering lot they are, they also need to differentiate themselves from the corruption of TEC. 

Some well-meaning conservatives suggest that not paying the tithe assessed by the liberal diocese and / or the national church, is the means to differentiate.  I think this is a Pyrrhic Victory at best, victimizing the faithful priest tending to his flock, and potentially the parish’s other big asset – the building.  Also, during said differentiation, one is required to “dialogue” (sic) with committees loaded with liberals, who were finished with the conversation long before the time of “dialogue.” 

I am going to go out on a limb here with my conservative brothers and sisters, and suggest that if one wants differentiation, perhaps it is best to stop pretending to “dialogue.”  And to do that, one would need to pay their (monetary) dues to their liberal diocese and the national church.  Do it, so you don’t have to talk to them.  Do it, so you don’t have to waste perfectly good weekends, entertaining their ideas about how to improve your parish.  Just do it. 

Undoubtably, there will be those who cannot conscience paying money to the liberal diocese.  My suggestion to them is that if they do not want to pay what is assessed of them, they should wield their differentiation in a manner that hurts the liberals in their diocese, but not their conservative rector.  Their weapon – their true weapon – is ASA.  They can lower the assessment by lowering that which increases the assessment, removing themselves from Sunday worship at their Episcopal parish, and finding a parish in a safer denomination. 

This will put financial strain on the priest or rector.  My best advice to him or her is to use the tentmaking model, take up that second career in order to make ends meet. 

What about the people who want to differentiate with their money, but don’t want to leave the parish?  Well, let’s think about the gas pump again.  If we saw the merit in driving a car to work, but wanted to pay less for gas, we don’t have to own our own car – we could carpool to our job.  Similarly, if a disgruntled conservative didn’t want to pay to the national church and/or liberals in their diocese, they could avoid Sunday worship, but network with and support the Christians who are called to fully support their conservative parish. 

That’s how the Third Way Movement might be like a gas-pump  (the meaning behind the turtle picture should fall out from this). 

Undoubtably, some of y’all will disagree, and that’s fine.  Again, at this stage, nothing has gotten past the chalkboard anyhow, and the rules of the brainstorming session dictate that there are no bad ideas.  One person I respect a lot pointed out earlier that conservative Episcopalians need to network with one another as opposed to Christians outside of TEC.  I think I agree with this in principal, but disagree in terms of practicality, calling for Christians outside of TEC to take the initiative to ‘adopt’ struggling conservatives called to stay within TEC.  It is very difficult to foster communities of conservative Christians within a liberal hotbed – much easier outside of the hotbeds. 

And oh yeah, it has to be the sole initiative of laypeople.  The deniability provision for conservative clergy must not only be plausible;  it must be actual.

– Elder

  1. Rob Eaton+
    3 January 2011 at 8:40 AM

    Thank you,

    • Elder Oyster
      4 January 2011 at 1:04 AM

      You are welcome Father, fwiw. But I’m curious – which parts did you like, and which did you find were full of hogwash? Enquiring minds want to know! 🙂

  2. Truth Unites... and Divides
    4 January 2011 at 12:38 AM

    TEc is firmly and irretrievably in the grasp of the Dark Lord.

    The Dark Lord laughs in amusement at those “Third Way” Episcopalians who thrash about in vain. They are most certainly of use to the Dark Lord.

    (For a cinematic parallel, think of the Star Wars saga about the Dark Lord.)

    Want to starve the apostate, heretical TEc beast? Get out and get others out.

    To beat the Dark Lord (in the Star Wars saga) one has to be outside the Dark Lord’s domain and sphere.

    Third Way? Pfffft.

    But this is still an excellent post! Thanks Elder Oyster.

  3. Elder Oyster
    4 January 2011 at 1:12 AM

    RE: “Want to starve the apostate, heretical TEc beast? Get out and get others out.”

    Or just wait for the fruits of their ineptitude to bloom. Within one or two articles, I will be highlighting one such glaring ineptitude in DSO. This is something that everyone resents – conservatives, liberals, and the mushrooms.

    But alas – there are so many more examples of ineptitude that I’ve left out of this blog, Truth. Fact is, President Obama would be a better administrator for this diocese than her current bishop.

    RE: “Third Way? Pfffft.”

    Doesn’t exist (yet?). Hence, the need to air out the idea once in a while.

    Besides, this blog has always been about the faithful Stayers, and always will be. Even in its death. 😉

  4. 4 January 2011 at 1:29 AM

    Sorry it’s not related, but I thought you might want to read an uncompromisingly orthodox AND moderate perspective on homosexuality, society & the Church: http://bit.ly/i5Ve1h

    • Elder Oyster
      4 January 2011 at 6:01 PM

      Thanks Carson,

      I’ll be sure to read this within the next couple of days. I appreciate the link, though normally I encourage commenters to stay on-topic. 😉
      To return the favor, I encourage you to check out episcopalianated’s comments, tucked away somewhere on this blog. Episcopalianated is a friend of mine.

      – EO

  5. 7 January 2011 at 4:23 PM

    In the absence of a third way, people will continue to vote with their feet, their wallets, or sadly, their souls. One by one the sheep will drift off, and it is apparant that those watching the TEc flock are okay with this. The wolf is happy as well. Given the fact that Christendom is divided into many ranches (or Gas stations), the TEc brand is the one with the lousy coffee, the low octane fuel, and the disreputable restrooms. No one should blame the sheep or the customers. A few customers complain openly, but to no avail.

    The shepherds and the managers are running the businesses into the ground. The old gas stations will be converted into restaurants, and their histories of previous incarnations will be framed and hung on the walls. At some point, absent a third way, everyone will be grazing or doing business elsewhere.

  6. Elder Oyster
    8 January 2011 at 4:02 AM

    Hi UGP,

    RE: “In the absence of a third way, people will continue to vote with their feet,”

    I believe most of the feet-voters have already cast their ballots. I myself don’t see my own decision to leave as a vote per se; it’s more of a graduation to acceptance. I accept that the Third Way does not exist, and I accept that there is presently no local collective will to create it.

    It was time to go. For other conservatives, it wasn’t.

    RE: “..their souls”

    I believe that win or lose, God is in control of that aspect irrespective of whether someone is within or without TEC.

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